The weather’s getting warmer, the daylight is lasting longer, flowers are blooming for a few days before wilting, and the subway is getting stinkier. Ah yes, it’s spring in Manhattan, and it’s the perfect time to emerge from your Netflix and Seamless hibernation and explore the great outdoors of the city.
Within the concrete jungle lie 31 featured parks in Manhattan, plus a ton of little green spaces, so no matter where in the borough you live, an urban oasis is likely to be within reach. And these parks aren’t just for show. Particularly as the weather starts to get nicer, there are countless (well, you could them if you really want to) activities to do in the park, many of which are free. That’s right, there are some things in Manhattan that do not require you take out a second mortgage, mainly because you can’t afford a mortgage here in the first place. For example, starting in May, you can go canoeing or kayaking across the city for the low, low price of nothing. Good places to start searching for events are nycparks.org and hudsonriverpark.org if you’re a West-sider.
But sometimes it’s nice to just stroll through a park, sit on a nice bench and maybe lay out on a rare sighting of grass. In New York, the grass really can be greener on the other side.
Here are four of Manhattan’s best and brightest parks:
This may seem like an obvious choice, but in a city where trends can triumph truth, don’t overlook the classics. Central Park is a treasure trove of interesting sights and sounds, ranging from bird watching areas to baseball fields to the Literary Walk filled with statues of people you maybe sorta kinda know of. Aside from birds, there are also lots of animals here, as the park houses its own zoo, and you can see the sea lions for free while passing through the park near 65th and 5th Ave.
Washington Square Park lacks the lawn space of some of New York’s finest green areas, but what it lacks in grass, it makes up for in charm. The impressive arch at the park’s entrance leads into what’s usually a lively but not insanely crowded scene. The park often has all sorts of performers in action, such as dancers, piano players and performance artists like Matthew Silver, so you can say you took in some culture just by walking through. Washington Square Park also features a beautiful fountain in the center, but save the swim trunks and goggles for the beach.
Madison Square Park is another one of the city’s gems, with its beautiful landscaping, views of the Flatiron Building, and an adorable dog park. Despite being located in a busy area with lots of offices and busy streets surrounding it, the park still manages to be a calming area. Check out the free concerts there during the summer, and/or enjoy a nice bench sit. Everyone enjoys a good bench sit.
It’s kind of hard to believe a place like this actually exists in Manhattan, but in the northernmost part of the borough lies Inwood Hill Park. It pretty much looks like the woods in any suburban Northeastern town, but since this is in Manhattan, it’s pretty exciting. And it’s actually enough of a true wilderness to spot bald eagles there. #thatssoAmerica
On one side of the park you can also get a great view of the George Washington Bridge, which deserves way more admiration than it receives. Stop hogging all the attention, Brooklyn Bridge!
No matter which spot you venture to, just make sure to get out there and enjoy New York’s wonderful parks before some developer buys the land from the city to put up another luxury condo.